September 18, 2007 / 9:08 AM / 10 years ago

Barrymore to star in HBO's "Grey Gardens"

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange will star in an HBO movie adaptation of “Grey Gardens,” the 1975 documentary about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ eccentric cousin and aunt.

The story follows the relationship between the mother-daughter duo of “Big Edie” (Lange) and “Little Edie” Beale (Barrymore), who spent most of their lives in a decaying mansion on New York’s Long Island.

The project was originally announced as a feature film in early 2006, though HBO Films was not involved at the time. It’s yet to be determined if the movie will be released theatrically before it airs on HBO.

Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale made national headlines in 1971 when the Suffolk County Health Department raided their dilapidated East Hampton, N.Y., mansion -- named Grey Gardens -- and found more than 50 cats, raccoons, fleas, piles of garbage, human and cat excrement and no heat or running water. The department threatened to kick the pair out of the 28-room mansion before Kennedy Onassis stepped in and paid to help clean it up. Their story was documented by “Gimme Shelter” directors Albert and David Maysles.

Big Edie died in 1977, and Little Edie sold the house to Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and his wife Sally Quinn two years later. She became a nightclub singer, moved to Florida and died in 2002.

It’s not the first time the documentary has been adapted. In spring 2006, “Grey Gardens” opened as a musical at Playwright Horizons before moving to Broadway in November at the Walter Kerr Theatre. The show, starring Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson -- both of whom won Tony Awards for their roles -- ended its Broadway run in July. Ebersole will reprise her role when the show opens this season in London.

Barrymore’s upcoming credits include the films “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “South of the Border.” Lange’s recent credits include CBS’ “Sybil” and the film “Bonneville.”

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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